(Wednesday, August 25, 2021 – Washington, DC) – Today, Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi announced that the Island continues to lead in COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States. Currently, 1.9 million (62%) of Puerto Ricans are fully vaccinated, and 2.2 million (72.4%) have gotten at least one vaccine shot. Among eligible people, Puerto Rico’s numbers rise to 81.1% with one dose and 69.5% fully vaccinated. The national rate for partial vaccination among eligible people is about 70% and 51% for full vaccination. These percentages mark a stark contrast between Puerto Rico, which ranks 6th in comparison to the rest of the territories and states.
On July of this year, the Governor has announced several executive orders that began taking effect in August 2021 and have contributed to an increase in vaccination rates. Since August 16, 2021, Executive Order 2021–058 requires government employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for in-person work. This measure excludes employees who refuse vaccination on the basis of religious beliefs and medical conditions. However, individuals that refuse to be vaccinated are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test result on the first business day of each week within a maximum of seventy-two hours, or a positive COVID-19 test result within the last three months with evidence from recovery for in-person work.
On August 5, 2021, the Governor announced Executive Order 2021–062, to expand the vaccination requirement to all government contractors and employees in the tourism industry. The order also applies to tourists staying in hotels, hostels, or short-term rentals, as well as employees in the public and private health sector (i.e., workers in hospitals, clinical laboratories, medical offices, therapy centers, blood banks, pharmacies, and long-term care centers).
The Governor then issued Executive Order 2021–063 to expand the vaccination requirement for employees and contractors of restaurants, bars, sports bars, cafes, theaters, cinemas, stadiums, convention centers, and the entertainment industry. This measure also included a provision that required restaurants and any business that sells food or beverage to verify that all visitors above the age of twelve presented a vaccination ID card, a negative COVID-19 test result performed 72 hours prior to visiting the establishment, or a positive COVID-19 test results within the last three months with evidence from recovery, or reduce its capacity to 50%.
Furthermore, he also issued Executive Order 2021–064 that goes into effect on August 30, 2021, which expands the vaccination requirements to merchants, business owners, employees, administrators, volunteers, or contractors that work in beauty salons, barbershops, spas, gyms, childcare centers, supermarkets, grocery stores, casinos, and gas stations. The order requires every customer to present a vaccination ID card, or a negative COVID-19 test result performed 72 hours prior to visiting the establishment. Refusal to comply will also result in a reduction of the establishment’s maximum capacity to 50%. Students twelve years and older who are not vaccinated will not be able to attend in-person school in-person unless they get the shot as mandated by the Puerto Rico Department of Health’s Administrative Order 2021–509. It also requires teaching and non-teaching personnel, and contractors in schools, educational centers, and universities to get vaccinated.
“As Governor of Puerto Rico, I am incredibly proud of how far we have come in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, more than 62% of our population is fully vaccinated, and over 70% is partially vaccinated. These statistics represent a key milestone in our efforts to increase vaccination rates and our people of Puerto Rico have responded. My administration has spearheaded a clear, concise, and effective messaging campaign in partnership with government officials, personnel from the health sector, the National Guard, the media, and others to educate our people and reduce vaccine concerns – and it has been effective,” said Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi.
“Puerto Rico is at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccination rates in the U.S., and I cannot be prouder of our people. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in light of the Delta variant and the global spike in infections it has caused, the compassion of the people of Puerto Rico and their willingness to help others have guided us through difficult paths and helped contain this pandemic. I have no doubt that this citizenship responsibility will continue as we work steadily to reach that remaining percentage of the population that hasn’t been vaccinated.” concluded the Governor.